This page provides an explanation for the terminologies used in this portal in the context of digital government.

Glossaries for data, AI, and science and technology

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is a style of computing in which scalable and elastic IT-enabled capabilities are delivered as a service using internet technologies.

3D Printing

3D printing is an additive technique that uses a device to create physical objects from digital models.

Machine learning (ML)

Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) and computer science, which focuses on the use of data and algorithms to imitate the way that humans learn, gradually improving its accuracy.

4th Industrial Revolution

It is a technological revolution that integrates physical, digital and biotechnologies to produce services and innovate products in new sectors.

Application programming interface

According to IBM, an ‘Application programming interface’ (API) is a set of defined rules that explain how computers or applications communicate with one another. APIs sit between an application and the web server, acting as an intermediary layer that processes data transfer between systems. An API enables companies to open up their applications’ data and functionality to external third-party developers, business partners, and internal departments within their companies. This allows services and products to communicate with each other and leverage each other’s data and functionality through a documented interface. Read more about APIs in the UAE and how APIs can transform your company.

Artificial Intelligence

The UN defines it as the branch of computer science concerned with the development of machines capable of performing activities that are normally thought to require a human type of intelligence with the ability to learn, understand, analyse situations, reason and make decisions.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) refers to the technology that offers a real-time view of one's immediate surroundings altered or enhanced by computer generated information. That means, when users examine their environment through AR devices, they see information superimposed on the objects around them. The technology used to enhance images with multiple layers of other information is useful in fields where visualising images can be difficult.


AR can be used to locate points of interests and for training purposes. For example, some devices work out the location of the user, the direction in which they are looking, and then look up an online database to compute which landmarks would be visible to the user. The device can then overlay the user’s view of these landmarks with relevant information. Similarly, in the medical sector, trainee surgeons can use AR to superimpose CT scans on the image of a patient to better visualise an area of the body even before an incision is made.


Several government entities in the UAE are considering applying AR. In 2016, TRA presented five projects which were based on ICT and AR. Meanwhile, AR has entered the space of adventure and thrill with this zip line using AR.

Big Data

According to Gartner, big data are high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making and process automation.


According to IBM and Forbes, blockchain is a shared immutable real-time ledger for recording the history of financial transactions, contracts, physical assets, supply chain info, etc. It provides a permissioned network with known identities. There is no one person or party in charge of the entire chain. It is open and everyone in the chain can see the detail of each record or what is known as a block.


Each block is time stamped and encrypted. The only person who can edit a block is the one that owns it. Owners gain access to their block through a private key that only they have. When there are changes to an individual block, everyone’s distributed blockchain is updated and synced in real time.

Bounce rate

As per Google Analytics, it is the percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. A bounced session has a duration of 0 seconds. 


Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that operate without a central issuing or regulating authority. They rely on a set of algorithms and protocols to facilitate a peer-to-peer, cryptographically based payment system, serving as a medium of exchange and store of value. Hence, these currencies do not rely on banks to verify transactions and do not require an intermediary, making it possible for anyone, anywhere to send and receive payments.

New cryptocurrencies are released every day. Entities, companies or even individuals can issue their own cryptocurrency under their name. However, only a limited number of these cryptocurrencies gain adoption among users, with Bitcoin being the most notable example.

Watch this video to learn more about the legality of cryptocurrencies – UAE’s Cyber Security Council.

Cyber blackmail

Cyber blackmail (PDF, 120 KB) is the act of threatening to share information about a person to the public, their friends or family, unless a demand is met or money is paid.

Cyber crime

A cyber crime (PDF 5.32 MB) or a computer crime is any crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target.

Cyber security

Cyber security (PDF 5.32 MB) is the collection of tools, policies, security concepts, security safeguards, guidelines, risk management approaches, actions, training, best practices, assurance and technologies that can be used to protect the cyber environment and organisation and user’s assets. Organisation and user’s assets include connected computing devices, personnel, infrastructure, applications, services, telecommunications systems, and the totality of transmitted and/or stored information in the cyber environment.

Cyber space

Cyber space (PDF 5.32 MB) is the environment in which communication over computer networks occurs.

Digital by default

As per a UK Government doc, digital by default means digital services which are so straightforward and convenient that all those who can use digital services will choose to do so, while those who cannot are not excluded. Digital self-service is the default option for people who can use it, but it should not be the only option. People who are offline can access digital by default services, through ‘assisted digital’ support to ensure that no one is left behind. Read ‘Digital by default: A guide to transforming government’ by McKinsey & Company.

Digital by design

Digital by design (PDF, 1 MB) means embedding  digital technologies in policy-making and service design processes from the beginning. Business processes and internal operations must be re-engineered to be simplified. In addition, governments must innovate public services and open up multiple channels of communication and engagement with the public and private sectors, community organisations and the public.

Digital divide

Gartner defines digital divide as the gap in opportunities experienced by those with limited accessibility to technology, especially the Internet. This includes, but is not limited to, accessibility challenges in the following areas:

  • cultural (e.g., membership of a community that prohibits or restricts access to technology)
  • physical (e.g., having a disability that make it difficult or impossible to use a computer)
  • economic (e.g., being unable to afford a computer)
  • educational (e.g., not knowing how to use a computer).


Digital inclusion

The UN defines digital inclusion as equitable, meaningful, and safe access to use, lead, and design of digital technologies, services, and associated opportunities for everyone, everywhere. The concept of digital inclusion must go beyond basic access, and also discuss the structural barriers for connecting, as well as the threats and risks that operating online poses, particularly to vulnerable populations such as those affected by crisis or conflict.


Digital government

Digital government (PDF, 1 MB) is the use of digital technologies, as an integrated part of governments’ modernisation strategies, to create public value. It relies on a digital government ecosystem comprising government actors, non-governmental organisations, businesses, citizens’ associations and individuals which support the production of and access to data, services and content through interactions with the government. Digital government is about new ways of delivering public value and making services and government procedures digital by design. This requires integrating ICTs in the public sector reform agenda, right from its conceptualisation.

Digital signature

As per Gartner, a digital signature is a specific type of electronic signature that relies on public-key cryptography to support identity authentication and provide data and transaction integrity. It is used as a means to reach a goal of providing irrefutable evidence that a specific digital object originated from a specific individual and has not been altered.

Digital trust

Gartner defines that digital trust underpins every digital interaction by measuring and quantifying the expectation that an entity is who or what it claims to be and that it will behave in an expected manner. CIOs who lead digital business initiatives need to learn how digital trust differs from traditional trust models.

World Economic Forum mentions that building digital trust depends on people, processes and technology in an organisation. These factors are crucial to building a secure digital world and will make or break digital trust.

Digital twins

According to IBM, a digital twin is a virtual model of a real object or system that spans its lifecycle. It is updated from real-time data and uses simulation, machine learning and reasoning to help decision-making.

There are various types of digital twins depending on the level of product magnification. They are:

  • component twins
  • asset twins
  • system or unit twins
  • process twins

The biggest difference between these twins is the area of application.


Related links


According to the UNTERM portal, eGovernment or electronic Government involves the use of information technologies (such as wide area networks, the Internet and mobile computing) to exchange information with citizens, businesses and other arms of government and to provide services via the Internet. The concept of eGovernment espouses two aspects: eReadiness and eParticipation. 

eGovernment Development Index

According to the United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN), the eGovernment Development Index is a composite measure of three important dimensions of eGovernment, namely: provision of online services, telecommunication connectivity and human capacity.


According to Gartner, eLearning is the use of Internet technology for learning outside of the classroom. eLearning suites are software solutions that enable automation, administration and training over the Internet. eLearning suites are integrated product collections that comprise learning management systems (LMSs), virtual classrooms, courseware and learning content management systems (LCMSs). An LMS is software that automates the training process and function and includes registration and administration tools, skills and records management, courseware access, and programming interfaces to packaged applications. An LCMS is an integrated set of technology that manages all aspects of learning content. This includes authoring or acquisition, content history, auditing, replacement, and deletion. An LCMS generally works in conjunction with an LMS.


According to the UNTERM portal, it refers to the willingness, on the part of government, to use ICT to provide high quality information (explicit knowledge) and effective communication tools for the specific purpose of empowering people to participate in consultations and decision-making, both in their capacity as consumers of public services and as citizens.


ePay means paying for government services through electronic channels such as computers, laptops and kiosks. Payment could be made by using bank cards, eDirham or the direct debit facility from banks.


According to the UNTERM portal, eReadiness or electronic Readiness is the generic capacity or aptitude of the public sector to use information and communications technology (ICT) for encapsulating in public services and deploying to the public high quality information (explicit knowledge) and effective communication tools that support human development. 

Electro mobility (eMobility)

According to Gartner, electro mobility (or eMobility) represents the concept of using electric powertrain technologies, in-vehicle information, and communication technologies and connected infrastructures to enable the electric propulsion of vehicles and fleets. Powertrain technologies include full electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, as well as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that convert hydrogen into electricity. eMobility efforts are motivated by the need to address corporate fuel efficiency and emission requirements, as well as market demands for lower operational costs.

Electronic forms (eForms)

According to Gartner, electronic forms (eForms) provide a user interface to data and services, typically through a browser-based interface. eForms enable users to interact with enterprise applications and the back-end systems linked to them. Web applications, eGovernment and eCommerce solutions have sparked the demand for better Web forms that support richer and more dynamic interactions than are possible with HTML forms. New eForm applications include XML content identification, multiple data callouts, field-level validation and embedded process logic contained within a secure format that’s often portable.

Electronic signature (eSignature)

According to Gartner, an electronic signature (eSignature) is a traceable email or a biometric applied to a message. The biometric may be based on digitized handwriting (handwriting that is converted by cryptography into a digital signature) or a biometric (e.g., a fingerprint that can be combined with a hash or digest of the message to show the signer’s intent). The electronic signature cannot be removed and applied to other documents to forge a signature.

Electronic Waste (eWaste)

According to Gartner, electronic waste (eWaste), is a generic term used to describe all types of old, end-of-life or discarded electrical and electronic equipment, such as household appliances; office information and communications equipment; entertainment and consumer electronic equipment; lighting equipment; electric and electronic tools; toys; and leisure, sports and recreational equipment that are powered by electricity. eWaste contains both valuable and hazardous materials that require special handling and recycling methods.


The UAE Federal Government Network (FedNet) programme will provide a common infrastructure creating a convenient and on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources for all federal government entities.


According to a document by OECD (PDF), gamification refers to using game design elements in non-game contexts and examining ways in which the pedagogical structure of games can be used in the design of educational activities while maintaining a sense of playfulness. The UAE applied this with the KidX portal. 


Generative AI

Generative AI expands the output of AI systems to include high-value artifacts such as video, narrative, software code, synthetic data through to designs and schematics.


Government as a platform

Government as a Platform refers to the whole ecosystem of shared ‘Application Programming Interfaces’ (APIs) and components, open-standards and canonical datasets, as well as the services built on top of them and governance processes that keep the wider system safe and accountable. A government acts as a platform (PDF, 1 MB) when it provides clear and transparent sources of guidelines, tools, data and software that equip teams to deliver user-driven, consistent, seamless, integrated, proactive and cross-sectoral service delivery.


A hackathon is an event where programmers code collaboratively in groups over a short period of time to create a functioning product and innovative solutions for socio-economic and environmental issues based on available data and technology.

Internet of Things (IoT)

According to Gartner, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment. 

Islamic economy

According to State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2022 (PDF, 1 MB), the Islamic economy is anchored around the Islamic faith-inspired ethical needs of Muslims. These are the principles and values adopted by them as a ‘way of life’. While they may be culturally diverse or geographically distributed, Muslim consumers globally drive a cohesive USD 2 trillion opportunity across a range of lifestyle products and services, while the Islamic finance assets amount to a USD 3.6 trillion opportunity, collectively known as the ‘Islamic economy’.

Large Language Models (LLMs)

A large language model (LLM) is a specialised type of artificial intelligence (AI) that has been trained on vast amounts of text to understand existing content and generate original content. LLMs utilise accelerators for handling extensive textual information to mimic/reproduce human-like language. Well-known LLMs include Google's Bard and OpenAI's GPT-3. Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence co-created its own open-source chatbot, known as Vicuna.


Learn more about LLMs - MBZUAI.

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications

According to Gartner, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications is used for automated data transmission and measurement between mechanical or electronic devices. The key components of an M2M system are: Field-deployed wireless devices with embedded sensors or RFID-Wireless communication networks with complementary wireline access includes, but is not limited to cellular communication, Wi-Fi etc.


A metaverse is a collective virtual open space, created by the convergence of virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. It is an independent virtual economy, enabled by digital currencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). A metaverse requires multiple technologies and trends such as: augmented reality (AR), head-mounted displays (HMDs), an AR cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and spatial technologies to function.


Gartner expects that by 2026, 25 per cent of people will spend at least one hour a day in the Metaverse for work, shopping, education, social media and/or entertainment.


Mobile commerce (mCommerce)

According to Gartner, mobile commerce (mCommerce) refers to the delivery of eCommerce capabilities directly to mobile service users by wireless technology. 

Mobile government or mGovernment

According to the UNTERM portal, mobile government or mGovernment involves the use of the mobile wireless communication technology within government administration and in its delivery of services and information to citizens and firms. 

Mobile payment or mPayment

As per the UAE mGovernment Roadmap, mPayment is defined as a payment process between two parties over a mobile device. 

Mobile portal

According to Gartner, a mobile portal is an Internet gateway that enables mobile devices to connect remotely with an enterprise intranet or extranet, typically via a Web browser interface. Consumer-oriented mobile portals provide access to mobile services and content using channels such as SMS, a microbrowser such as WAP, i-mode and voice. Consumer mobile portals aggregate content from many sources and may offer personalized services and content to mobile users — for example, unified messaging, news, search facilities, directories and m-commerce transactions.

Open by default

Open by default is used in the contexts of open government and open data. It means making government data and policy-making processes (including algorithms) available for the public to engage with.

Open data

According to Gartner, open data is information or content made freely available to use and redistribute, subject only to the requirement to attribute it to the source. The term also may be used more casually to describe any data that is shared outside the organization and beyond its original intended use, for example, with business partners, customers or industry associations.  Formally, data designated as ‘open’ is subject to several conditions and licensing that can be found at opendefinition.org.

Pages per session

(Average Page Depth) – As per Google Analytics, it is the average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeated views of a single page are counted.

Page views

As per Google Analytics, it is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted. 

Regulatory sandbox

A regulatory sandbox is a unit, which typically sits within a country’s conduct regulator and evaluates the need for fintechs to conduct controlled market tests under less stringent regulatory requirements. Regulatory sandboxes permit regulators to engage entrepreneurs more quickly and at a lower compliance cost, in a controlled setting. Regulatory sandboxes constitute a process, an infrastructural change, on the path towards reforming the authorisation procedure. Read about Regulatory sandboxes in the UAE.

Quantum computing

Quantum computers are machines that explicitly use quantum physical phenomenon to produce computational speed-ups beyond the capabilities of traditional computers. According to Microsoft, quantum computing applies the properties of quantum physics to process information and has the potential to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges in only days or hours comparing to current computers which would require tens of billions of years to solve them.

In quantum computing, a qubit (short for quantum bit) is a unit of quantum information, similar to a classical bit. Where classical bits hold a single binary value such as a 0 or 1, a qubit can hold both values at the same time in what's known as a superposition state. When multiple qubits act coherently, they can process multiple options simultaneously. This allows them to process information in a fraction of the time.

Quantum computing will enable researchers to simulate and develop new catalysts and materials, improve medicines, accelerate advances in artificial intelligence and even answer fundamental questions about the origins of our universe.


As per Google Analytics, it is the total number of sessions within the date range. A session is the period time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.

SSO (Single sign-on)

According to Gartner, single sign-on (SSO) provides the capability to authenticate once, and be subsequently and automatically authenticated when accessing various target systems. It eliminates the need to separately authenticate and sign on to individual applications and systems, essentially serving as a user surrogate between client workstations and target systems. Target applications and systems still maintain their own credential stores and present sign-on prompts to client devices. Behind the scenes, SSO responds to those prompts and maps the credentials to a single login/password pair. SSO is commonly deployed in enterprise, web and federated models.

Virtual reality

According to Gartner, Virtual reality (VR) provides a computer-generated 3D environment that surrounds a user and responds to that individual’s actions in a natural way, usually through immersive head-mounted displays and head tracking. Gloves providing hand tracking and haptic (touch sensitive) feedback may be used as well. Room-based systems provide a 3D experience for multiple participants; however, they are more limited in their interaction capabilities. VR is used in many fields. In the medical field, VR rehabilitation technology makes use of simulation of the real world to meet various requirements for effective medical intervention to achieve the best results using the video game controller and the moving sensor.

Web accessibility

According to World Wide Web Consortium, web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the web.

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